Keola Homes announced as Small Business of the Year 2013

Keola won at the New Zealand Commercial Project Awards… and now we’ve won another award!

In 2013, Keola won the Best Small Business Award at the Westpac Auckland West Business Awards – and were also Finalists in the Excellence in Innovation Award.

Business owner Sanjesh Lal says: “I entered these Awards not expecting to win: all I was looking for was some feedback from the Judges, and to get benchmarked against other businesses. I had a feeling we were doing some things well, but there are always improvements to be made, and it’s those improvements I want to focus on. Winning the Best Small Business Award is a huge boost for the whole team – it shows that we’re heading in the right direction.”

Keola started up in difficult economic times

Keola was founded in 2007, just as the global recession was starting.

“If you ever need a challenge, start a house building company in a recession, when people aren’t even building a fence,” says Sanjesh.

Sanjesh’s hard work has paid off. He says, “Starting a business in such adverse conditions means you have to plan your finances and cash flow very carefully. Likewise, getting all your internal systems and processes running efficiently is essential: time is money, and every little incremental change makes a difference to the bottom line. Because we had these extreme challenges from Day One, it’s forced us to work smart as well as hard.”

Keola thrives on the challenges of difficult conditions – and difficult sites

Keola is no stranger to hard work, as its core business is designing and building luxury architectural homes on steep and difficult sections in Auckland. Often, these are sections that other builders have refused to build on, or deemed too expensive to build on.

An example of an architecturally designed Keola Home – where 2/3 of the building platform is suspended over a creek.

For example, Keola has built houses where:

  • 2/3 of the building platform is over a creak;
  • On extremely steep sites that have geotechnical and structural issues;
  • On rock foundations where special foundation systems were needed;
  • Over old underground streams that have been filled in.

Winners! Keola triumph at the New Zealand Commercial Project Awards

Keola wINS its first National award for building the Magic Kingdom Childcare Centre in Blockhouse Bay, Auckland

This was in the Commercial Project Awards’ Education category – a hotly contested division, where we were up against large corporations such as Fletcher Construction, Hawkins Construction and Naylor Love.

“It’s incredibly satisfying to be recognised for innovative and excellent building practices, especially against such large competitors,” says Keola’ Director, Sanjesh Lal.

“This project is a bit different to our normal niche of architecturally-designed homes, but it needed the exact same skillset of solid engineering and innovation as a luxury home. The project management for the Magic Kingdom Childcare Centre was more complex than usual too, and the project was constructed on time; and with zero health and safety issues.”

Keola won a Bronze Award in the New Zealand Commercial Project Awards 2013 for constructing this childcare centre in Blockhouse Bay, Auckland.

What did the project entail?

A derelict two-storey home was transformed into a state-of-the-art childcare centre. The innovative design blends the existing and new structures into a low-maintenance building.

Spaces have been designed with the needs of children and staff in mind. Play areas are sunny and warm, whilst sleep areas are quiet and dimly lit. Strategically placed storage areas provide natural noise buffers.

The childcare centre’s environmentally-friendly credentials

Energy-efficiency is a key feature of the project:

  • Solar panels: The solar panels are out of sight and provide continuous power.
  • Rainwater recycling: A vast 27,000L water tank (hidden underground) supplies the laundry, toilets and garden tanks with re-useable rainwater.
  • Recycled materials: Many materials were recycled and re-used on site, including the broken concrete driveway, which was re-used as hard fill for car parks.
  • Re-use of trees: Large trees that had to be felled on the site were also re-used. Some of the large tree trunks were kept and later transformed into carvings for the outside play area. Smaller trunks were used for kids standing blocks. Trees were also chipped and later used as bark for landscaping.

Of course, a Keola project isn’t complete without some site-related challenges!

The site presented a number of challenges: it was in a flood zone; had geotechnical issues; and there were resource consent issues to contend with.

The client also had to start marketing the facility one month prior to construction being completed, and he needed to obtain Ministry of Education certification at the same time. So the furniture was being delivered and installed, and the exterior landscaping taking place, while the construction work was still in progress!

Stressful? Just a tad! Extremely careful project management was needed to ensure that all the contractors could fulfil their commitments.

What does the client say?

The client, Darius Singh, says, “The childcare centre is already a big success for us. It opened on time, despite geotechnical issues complicating the project schedule in the early stages. In fact, the centre was oversubscribed at the time of opening – we are thrilled with that outcome!”

“The last month of the project was crazy. We had to get Ministry of Education approval one month before opening, and of course the construction work was still taking place. Keola was very helpful in the way they adjusted the work schedule, and were very mindful of our commercial priorities. Not only were they good to work with, but also the building work is of a very high standard. I wanted an industry-leading childcare facility, and thanks to Keola, I have that.”

Sanjesh Lal and Sangita Lal, Directors of Keola, with their New Zealand Commercial Project Award.

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Award winning

Our unique engineering approach to construction management is built on strong analytical minds that say there’s ‘never a problem, always a solution’.

We have an ethos of building things that work. Added to this an exceptional back office team who offer a streamlined, process driven approach to project delivery. On time with industry leading quality.

Trust Keola

Award winning

Keola has received industry recognition with a number of Gold, Silver and Bronze awards in the Residential and Commercial construction sector.

Excellent track record

We take care of the details, expertly navigating the intricacies of working with Council for RMA issues, noise, fire rating, inter-tenancies, unit titles, parking, infrastructure etc.

Can-do approach

Sometimes it takes a little Kiwi ingenuity to figure out a cost-effective way of bringing an architect’s vision to life. So if you’re looking for a builder that’ll add value and finesse to your project, call us.

Exceptional experience

Director Sanjesh Lal is a Chartered Civil Engineer and Registered Master Builder. He’s backed by the exceptional and experienced Keola team to expertly manage your construction project.

Difficult site? No problem

Constructing a building with difficult site constraints? Rest easy. We take pride in our engineering approach to construction management on challenging sites.

Low Variations

Our approach and deep understanding of the process means we price very accurately and pride ourselves on low variations. That means you can trust the figures we put forward.


rooms built


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sqm of floor space created